Chile- Foreign Policy

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Chile- Foreign Policy

Since President Ricardo Lagos took office in 2000, Chile has achieved two of its dearest foreign-policy goals: free trade agreements (FTAs) with the EU and the United States. Now his government's attention is turning towards its neighbours.

In the two decades since Chile adopted a policy of open trade, its economic growth has been driven by exports. In terms of goods alone, these now account for around a third of the country's GDP. But Chile needs its neighbours to be doing well, too. “Chile's integration will be incomplete if it doesn't include other Latin American countries,” says Carlos Portales, the Foreign Ministry's director of foreign policy. Regional stability and harmonious local relations are crucial if Chile is to increase its exports of services (Kennedy, p. 205).

Unfortunately, Chile's past successes—and especially the achievement of the first FTAbetween Washington and a South American country—have done little to endear it to its neighbours. Many of them distrust free trade, and blame globalisation for their economic misfortunes. The Chilean government now has little hope that talks on a proposed Free-Trade Area of the Americas will bear much fruit.

Still, the government denies that Chile is isolated within Latin America. True, its ambition to make a more formal political alliance out of Mercosur—a trade block comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, of which Chile is an associate member—was frustrated, mainly because Brazil objected. But Chile is, for example, advising Peru and Ecuador on how to negotiate their own FTAs with America.

According to Mr Lagos, the speed at which Latin American countries are advancing towards international integration may vary, but they are moving in the same direction. Chile, he says, shares the region's concern with the injustices of the international economic system. But “globalisation is here to stay, so we need to work to iron out those injustices” (Ballve, p. 163). That means, for example, looking to the Doha round of trade talks to deal with issues such as dumping and agricultural subsidies. One of Chile's main foreign-policy priorities, he avers, is to help Latin America achieve a stronger voice in such negotiations.

The government also sees the current involvement of Chile and Brazil in the United Nations Security Council, as non-permanent members, as an important opportunity to strengthen the region's international profile. To that end, Chile has offered to send advisors to Iraq, to share the experience of setting up fresh electoral registers that the country acquired after the Pinochet dictatorship. Last week, Chile also joined America, France and Canada in sending troops to Haiti, as part of the UN peacekeeping force.

According to the government, as well as reflecting Chile's commitment to multilateralism that decision will allow it to represent Latin American and Caribbean interests in the island's reconstruction. The risk, of course, is that Chile' neighbours will see the deployment as yet more evidence of its being too cosy with America.

Foreign relations of Chile have always gone through various ups and downs since its independence. Foreign relations for Chile have always been clear and precise. Chile has always participated in international ...
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